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Cardinalfishes

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General Information

Cardinalfishes are slow-moving, nocturnal fishes that can be found in shallow reefs and tide pool areas throughout the tropical Atlantic and Indo-Pacific. Fishes from this family are small (rarely over 5 inches in length) and can be distinguished by their two separate dorsal and anal fins. Cardinalfishes typically have a large head, mouth, and eyes and many species are colored red, hence the “Cardinal” name. Most Cardinals hide among coral branches during the day and forage for food at night. They are also mouthbrooders—once laid by the female, the male carries the eggs in his mouth, keeping them protected and oxygenated until they hatch!

Aquarium Care & Feeding

Most Cardinalfishes are hardy and are a good choice for the beginner. In the wild, these fishes eat small crustaceans and plankton, predominantly at night. Some wild-caught species may require live foods to stimulate an initial feeding response in captivity, but once they acclimatize to aquarium conditions they can be switched to flakes, pellets, or frozen foods.